Instructional Strategies Assignment 1.1 – Reflective Writing
Objective – (I had to pick two)
The quotes I chose for the reflective writing assignment are “In short, students’ motivations are strongly influenced by what they think is important and what they believe they can accomplish” and “Students’ expectations are inextricably linked with their self-perceptions. Students must have confidence that, with appropriate effort, they can succeed. If there is no hope, there is no motivation.”(Barkley 2010, pg 11)
This statement is me – in the PIDP program. As I start each new class – I have the self-doubts, anxiety and a number of sleepless nights that I’m sure many other adult learners have. Every time – and I’m not exactly sure why, I have these fears and doubts. Each time, as I am successful in a course, and obviously building on the newest skillset of knowledge that I have attained, the fears ease and I feel, and therefore become more confident.
Thinking about this was very telling to me. Do my learners come into my classes with the same doubts as me; the same fears?
Back in high school, I took an electricity unit in my Grade 9 Science class. I hated it, thought it was so dumb; and banged my head against a wall trying to learn it – because we had to. I actually remember having an argument with my teacher and I can clearly recall saying “this is so dumb – when am I ever going to use this when I grow up?” Guess what……whoever would have thought that I would have a 30 year career with an electrical utility and actually teach certain aspects of electricity. I was minimally successful in that class; I got a high enough mark to pass, as it overwhelmed me. I hated it, didn’t think that I could be successful, along with the fact that I had absolutely no interest. If only I had known then what I know now, think of how much more meaningful that class would have been to me.
It is important that students feel that they can succeed in a course – and that includes us perceived subject matter expert “instructors” when we are the learner. There needs to be a personal and contextual connection between the learner and what is being learned in order to visualize that success. To make the learning meaningful it needs to make sense to us why we need this – and how we can apply it in real life? How I wish I would have known that back in Grade 9.
I often think of that Grade 9 class when I am instructing. One of my most common questions to my students is “why do we care?” How does what I am instructing apply when you get back to your workplace and actually have to do your job? Why does it matter?
One thing I have learned as an instructor is that timing is critical! I have had students in my classes when it is their first week in the workplace, and I end up really trying to teach them to run a marathon when they haven’t yet learned to walk. At this point, they really are wondering – why do I care – and usually the answer is – at this point, I don’t.
As an instructor, I need to make their journey a positive and encouraging one – the right thing at the right time and in the right place; somewhere they can feel safe to learn. (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – as it applies to education) If they can associate the instruction with real life and see how they can apply it in their own circumstances motivation and engagement are certainly increased.
We are all different and we all take training or courses for a variety of different reasons. For some, it may mean a promotion, or a raise. For others, it could be new job opportunities, or simply for self-improvement.
Whether the motivation is intrinsic, coming from the students own need and desire to excel – or extrinsically motivated, for rewards, fame, grades, and praise, the instructor should strive to make the classroom experience as positive and meaningful as possible.
There are a great number of student engagement techniques outlined in the text Student Engagement Techniques (Barkley 2010) that can be used in the classroom. There are many tips and strategies to make the classroom a more meaningful and engaging place. I am looking forward to incorporating some of these techniques, tips and strategies in my class. Using a variety of techniques will make the classroom experience more relevant to the learners. I found using the Teaching Goals Inventory (Angleo and Cross) really assisted in determining effective Classroom Assessment Techniques for the particular courses I instruct. Using that as a framework in order to discern which will be the most effective Student Engagement Technique will be extremely helpful.
Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for college faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (n.d.). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers.